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Burnsville water towerOne of Burnsville's water towers viewed from County Road 11 in 2019.
What's on the menu for the 2020 budget?The Burnsville Bulletin, Fall 2019 announces scheduled Budget Meetings and highlights of the budget.
Burnsville City HallA central business card location has been added to the entry at City Hall, 2020.
City of Burnsville vehiclesExamples of City vehicles 2019 - 2020.
Elizabeth KautzElizabeth Kautz runs for re-election as mayor 2020.

She was elected Mayor in 1994 and re-elected in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Burnsville City HallAdditional signage has been placed on the wall at the entry desk at City Hall with Burnsville's new theme line...you belong here.
Road construction 2020The City has scheduled April 2020 to Early November 2020 as Construction season for 2020 street improvements. Photo April 23, 2020 during pandemic. Burnsville Historical Society photo.
Chris Klavetter running for mayor of Burnsville 2020A campaign sign for Chris Klavetter, running for Burnsville Mayor 2020.
Dakota County offers a range of servicesPublished in the Burnsville Community Guide, Sun/Thisweek News years 2020 - 2021.
Elizabeth Kautz seeks ninth term as mayorMay 1, 2020 Sun/Thisweek News reports:


There’s too much unfinished business to stop now, said Kautz, 73, who was first elected mayor in 1994 and has been re-elected seven times.

“When I start something I can’t walk away from it,” she said, naming COVID-19 response and redeveloping the Burnsville Center retail area among the top priorities of the moment.

“I love this city, and I love the people of this city,” Kautz said. “I still have a lot of energy. I still have a lot of work to be done.”

In an interview two weeks ago Kautz said she’s keeping an eye on federal relief and grant funding that may be available to cities for pandemic response. The city is still working to ascertain the impact on its finances, she said.

“There are things that I should be, as a mayor, staying on top of, because it has a direct impact,” she said. If you’re not, and if you’re not at the table, you don’t have a voice. ... One of the benefits of being in office is the people in Washington know who you are, especially when you’re past president of the Conference of Mayors.”

Kautz was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors for an extended term in 2009 and 2010.

She traces Burnsville Center redevelopment efforts to her own initiative in 2015 to sign the city up for a Bloomberg Mayors Challenge award. Though the city didn’t win a Bloomberg grant, it has crafted a redevelopment plan for the County Road 42 retail area and sought without success yet, special state legislation to create a tax-increment financing district for the area.

“We have the plan and all the regulatory tools in place,” Kautz said. “But we still need to have our economic toolbox in place.”

Her tenure includes the evolution of the Heart of the City redevelopment district, which she said used to generate only about $200,000 in annual property taxes.

“And now you’ve got about a million dollars in property tax,” she said. “Not a bad investment.”

The Ames Center, the city-owned performing arts center Kautz championed, has finished its last two years with operating budgets in the black, she said. That took years to achieve after the $20 million center opened in 2009, opposed by a number of residents.

“Remember, it opened in the recession,” Kautz said. “Oh, my God, do I know that. And here they are.”

Other accomplishments during her tenure include creation of the infrastructure trust fund, securing an AAA bond rating and completion of the Highway 13-County Road 5 interchange, Kautz said.
Council Member Dan Gustafson seeks fourth term.May 1, 2020 Sun/Thisweek News reports:


Gustafson, 67, was elected to the council in 2004 and 2008 and again in 2016. His time away included dealing with a personal bankruptcy stemming from his former freight logistics business.

In 2016 he said he ran on restarting economic development in Burnsville, including the boom in new apartment construction. Prior councils lacked working majorities needed to approve zoning measures allowing new apartments, but that changed when Gustafson and Schulz were elected in 2016.

“We were falling behind all of our neighbors,” Gustafson said. “All of our neighbors had all of these state-of-the-art apartments, and we had none at that time.”

Now a number of projects have been built or are in the works.

“The city’s changed a lot,” said Gustafson, a Realtor. “Our economic and cultural demographic has changed. We have quite a few more people here that want to rent, including a lot of boomers that are selling their houses and they’re not buying another house — they want to rent a place. A lot of them used to leave Burnsville because they didn’t want to rent what we had.”

The new rentals have prodded owners of some older complexes to improve their properties, Gustafson said.

Burnsville’s new 2040 comprehensive plan lays out a denser development blueprint with more mixed uses, Gustafson said. Density is a tax-base booster that helps hold down taxes on existing properties, he said.

In his current term the city has become more “customer-friendly,” softening its interactions with residents on property code violations and removing costly regulations for trash enclosures at commercial buildings, he said.

“I like what I’m doing,” Gustafson said. “I like the city, and there’s a lot of work left to do here. There’s going to be a lot of work rebuilding after this (COVID-19 pandemic) is done.”

He was on the council that cut the city budget and staff because of the Great Recession.

“A lot of institutional knowledge can come in handy as these decisions are being made,” Gustafson said. “I’ve got that. Elizabeth has that. We’ve been down this road.”
Council Member Cara Schulz seeks second termMay 1, 2020 statement published in Sun/Thisweek News:


Schulz has been at the forefront of the council’s 3-2 majority directing city staff to reopen playgrounds it had begun closing because of COVID-19. That controversial direction was given during an April 14 work session and reaffirmed during an April 21 work session.

“The momentum is to start opening things up, not closing things down,” Schulz said in an interview between the two sessions. “That’s where the momentum needs to be.”

She said she welcomes views from closure advocates but said playground use shows that “quite a few people” are “equally concerned that this is a city service they still need and they’re utilizing.”

Schulz said she continually looks for “pain points between city residents and our city code” and ways to eliminate them.

“I have been doing that in my first term,” she said. “It’s definitely something I would continue in my second term if voters look at me and say, Yep, we want to do that again.”

She raised the issue of pet licensing, “which no one was doing,” and which the council eliminated.

Building height limits have been lifted except in single-family residential areas, she said.

She pushed for elimination of costly requirements for commercial trash enclosures and for allowing residents to keep trash and recycling bins on the sides of their houses, not fully screened from view.

City inspectors spent an inordinate amount of time addressing residential trash violations and in some cases issuing exemptions because bins couldn’t be screened on the property, Schulz said.

“Also, trash cans are the No. 1 complaint we received in the community, and it was often used by neighbors who don’t like another neighbor as a way to retaliate against them,” she said.

Schulz, 50, a candidate recruiter for the national Libertarian Party, has broken with council colleagues to vote against every annual city budget and levy. She says she doesn’t support property tax increases.

Schulz acknowledged that could be construed as not supporting the full range of city services Burnsville residents evidently enjoy.

“I think it’s absolutely fair to critique either position on this,” she said. “Part of the strength of our council is that we do have different views on things. You get the best result by having opposing views and discussing those though.”

It’s not “the city’s money,” it’s “every resident’s money,” she said. “And we have to be really careful and trustworthy with that. Situations like this (COVID-19), black swan events like this, are exactly why you have to be so careful. You never know what’s going to come up. So pushing for fiscal responsibility, yeah, I’ll continue to do that.”
Peparing for winter Burnsville Public Works 2019 - 2020Burnsville's Public Works equipment prepares for winter 2019 - 2020. With a major winter storm bearing down and expecting to drop 7-10 inches of snow on Burnsville between Friday and Saturday afternoon followed by high winds and dangerous wind chills, the Burnsville Public Works Department is in the final stages of developing their response plan. Photo compliments of the City.
Burnsville mayor has challenger in November 2020June 12, 2020 - Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News.

In the upcoming election Chris Klavetter will run against Elizabeth Kautz for mayor...
Council and Mayor 2020Those serving on the Burnsville City Council 2020.

Dan Kealey, Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, Vince Workman, Cara Schulz and Dan Gustafson.
City of Burnsville to cancel or pospone events due to COVID 19The entire world addresses COVID - 19, including the city of Burnsville.
Dig and line? no comment, council responds - Burnsville Sanitary LandfillMay 15, 2020 Burnsville Sun/Thisweek News by John Gessner:

There’s one solution for Burnsville’s landfill dilemma, and other options aren’t worth discussing, City Council members said Tuesday.

Wedded to a cleanup plan for the old Freeway Landfill that would open most of the property to development, council members refused to even opine on another option. It would unearth the trash and re-cover it on the property in a new landfill with a lining underneath.

Burnsville supports a “dig-and-haul” plan to move the garbage from Freeway to the nearby Burnsville Sanitary Landfill in the Minnesota River bottom. That would leave all the Freeway property immediately west of Interstate 35W as prime real estate.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is pursuing both dig-and-haul and on-site dig-and-line options in dual bids it will present to the Legislature in 2021.

At Tuesday’s council work session, MPCA Assistant Commissioner Kirk Koudelka asked — nicely — if there were any way the council could at least comment on dig-and-line options.

“No, there is not,” Council Member Cara Schulz replied. “Dig and line in any way, shape or form is absolutely, 100 percent unacceptable.”

Koudelka was seeking feedback on the city’s preference for the height of the landfill structure that would be erected under dig and line and the size of the remaining developable footprint.

Under three options, heights range from 790 to 850 feet, and developable footprints from 6.4 acres to 22.1. The value of potential development would top out at $18.53 million, according to the MPCA.

By contrast, removing all the trash from the Freeway property would leave more than 100 acres for development, with estimated value of $732.86 million, the agency estimates.

“The property tax revenues for the state, the county and the city are what’s at stake here,” Council Member Dan Kealey said.

Dig and line would rob the city of a “big, beautiful, billion-dollar development” and leave it with an unsightly “green hill” at the city’s northern entrance, Kealey said.

“I can’t give any recommendation on dig and line, period, and I don’t think our council should,” he said.

Schulz — and Daniel Schleck, attorney for Freeway Landfill owner the McGowan family trust — characterized the potential development boom on the property as a richly deserved “thank you” to Burnsville for accepting decades of the metro region’s waste in its two riverfront landfills and the old Freeway Dump east of I-35W.

The MPCA for years has sought cleanup of the Freeway properties, saying that years from now when the nearby Kraemer Mining and Materials limestone mine stops pumping groundwater, it will rise into the Freeway garbage and endanger drinking water for Burnsville and Savage.

Burnsville officials acknowledge the hazard — which Schleck strongly refuted — and say protecting drinking water is their top priority.

Their second is economic development. Reclaiming the Freeway Landfill property for development is crucial for redevelopment of the city’s entire Minnesota River Quadrant bordered by the river, Highway 13, the freeway and the Savage border, the city says.

Kraemer and Waste Management, owner of the Burnsville Sanitary Landfill, propose to move the Freeway garbage over a private road to the operating landfill, which requires state certification to expand its capacity. Kraemer would also mine limestone from the emptied Freeway landfill.

The council passed a resolution last year supporting the plan.

Dig-and-line costs for the Freeway properties range from $68 million for the tallest trash structure to $139 million for the shortest, the MPCA estimates.

Dig-and-haul costs range from $145 million to $795 million, the agency estimates.

The wide range of estimates depends largely on where the trash would be relocated and the fees charged to accept it, Koudelka said.

Kraemer has claimed that relocation to the Burnsville Sanitary Landfill could be done at a cost comparable to dig and line.

Koudelka said the MPCA doesn’t have the companies’ information as it estimates costs and prepares to put a dig-and-haul option out for competitive bids.

“Whoever bids can choose how they want to do it,” he said.

City and Dakota County officials are also keenly interested in the certificate of need sought by Waste Management to expand landfill capacity to accept the Freeway garbage and more new trash for years into the future.

The city has asked the county to waive its tipping fees for the dig and haul, and the county says fees generated by the larger landfill expansion are needed to make the county whole on the deal.

Steps remain in the certificate of need process, includig a supplemental environmental impact statement for which Waste Management is assembling information, Koudelka said.

“To me, the certificate of need goes hand in hand with removing the waste from the Freeway Landfill,” County Commissioner Liz Workman of Burnsville told him. “I know you disagree with me. But every time I hear you try to separate the two, I’m going to be right behind you trying to put the two back together.”

Burnsville City Hall interiorBurnsville City Hall 2020.
Burnsville Sanitary LandfillBurnsville Sanitary Landfill 2020.
Jennifer Rhode promoted to finance directorSummer 2020 - Burnsville Bulletin:

Employed with Burnsville for 15 years, Jennifer Rhode promoted to Financ Director.
Burnsville Police 2019 - 2020Burnsville K 9 patrol vehicle with dog.
City discussing landfill and dump otions with MPCASt. Paul Pioneer Press, May 24, 2020:

How to address the future of the landfill site near Interstate 35W and the Minnesota River.
The Wheels on the bus go YOU BELONGThe Burnsville Bulletin- Winter 2020 - Transit riders, motorists will know they belong in Burnsville when a newly wrapped Minnesota Valley Transit Authority bus rolls through the neighborhood this year...
The new Fire Station 1 - year 2020CNH Architects rendering of the future Fire Station1 in Burnsville.
Burnsville City Hall interiorBurnsville City Hall interior 2020.
Burnsville seeks public input on moving or cleaning up dumpMay 31, 2020 - Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The Burnsville City Council has made its opinion clear on the future of the polluted Freeway Landfill and Dump...
Council incumbents seeking re-election 2020May 1, 2020 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News reports:

Mayor Elizabeth Kautz and council members Dan Gustafson and Cara Schulz have announced they will seek re-election this coming November.
Burnsville City vehiclesBurnsville City vehicles 2019 - 2020.
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